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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 12

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Joshua 12:0


Kings Joshua DefeatedThe Kings Conquered by MosesA List of Israel's VictoriesThe Kings Defeated by MosesThe Kings Conquered East of the Jordan
Joshua 12:1-6Joshua 12:1-6Joshua 12:1-6Joshua 12:1-6Joshua 12:1-6
The Kings Conquered by JoshuaThe Kings Defeated by JoshuaThe Kings Conquered West of the Jordan
Joshua 12:7-24Joshua 12:7-24Joshua 12:7-24Joshua 12:7-24Joshua 12:7-24

READING CYCLE THREE (from “A Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


A. There are several accounts of the same events of conquest in Joshua. A list of the cities and their kings helps to put them all together.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. Jericho, Joshua 6:1-27 Ai/Bethel, Joshua 7:1-29 Gibeon, Joshua 9:3-27 Jerusalem, Joshua 10:1 Hebron, Joshua 10:3-27, Joshua 10:36-37 Jarmuth, Joshua 10:3-27 Lachish, Joshua 10:3-27 Eglon, Joshua 10:3-27, Joshua 10:34-35 Makkedan, Joshua 10:28 Libnah, Joshua 10:29-30 Lachish, Joshua 10:31-32 Debir, Joshua 10:38-39 Hazor, Joshua 11:1-5 Madon, Joshua 11:1-5 Shimron, Joshua 11:1-5 Achshaph, Joshua 11:1-5 Joshua 6:2 Joshua 8:29 --- Joshua 10:3, Joshua 10:23; Joshua 10:3, Joshua 10:23, Joshua 10:37; Joshua 10:3, Joshua 10:23 Joshua 10:3, Joshua 10:23 Joshua 10:3, Joshua 10:23 Joshua 10:28 Joshua 10:30 ---- Joshua 10:39 Joshua 11:1 Joshua 11:1 Joshua 11:1 Joshua 11:1 Joshua 12:9; Joshua 12:9, Joshua 12:16--- Joshua 12:10; Joshua 12:10Joshua 12:11; Joshua 12:11Joshua 12:12; Joshua 12:16Joshua 12:15----Joshua 12:13; Joshua 12:19Joshua 12:19; Joshua 12:20Joshua 12:20

Summary statements

Joshua 9:1-2

Joshua 10:3-5, Joshua 10:40-43

Joshua 11:10-15

Joshua 11:21-23 (Anakim)

B. The kings and cities mentioned in chapter 12 are not mentioned earlier.

1. Gezer, Joshua 12:12

2. Geder, Joshua 12:13

3. Hormah, Joshua 12:14

4. Arad, Joshua 12:14

5. Adullam, Joshua 12:15

6. Tappuah, Joshua 12:17

7. Hepher, Joshua 12:17

8. Aphek, Joshua 12:18

9. Lasharon, Joshua 12:18

10. Taanach, Joshua 12:21

11. Megiddo, Joshua 12:21

12. Kedesh, Joshua 12:22

13. Jokneam, Joshua 12:23

14. Dor, Joshua 12:23

15. Guiim, Joshua 12:23

16. Tirzah, Joshua 12:24

Verse Joshua 12:24 has, “thirty-one kings.” Apparently all were Greek type city-states, like the five Philistine cities.

Verses 1-6

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 12:1-6 1Now these are the kings of the land whom the sons of Israel defeated, and whose land they possessed beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise, from the valley of the Arnon as far as Mount Hermon, and all the Arabah to the east: 2Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, and ruled from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of the Arnon, both the middle of the valley and half of Gilead, even as far as the brook Jabbok, the border of the sons of Ammon; 3and the Arabah as far as the Sea of Chinneroth toward the east, and as far as the sea of the Arabah, even the Salt Sea, eastward toward Beth-jeshimoth, and on the south, at the foot of the slopes of Pisgah; 4and the territory of Og king of Bashan, one of the remnant of Rephaim, who lived at Ashtaroth and at Edrei, 5and ruled over Mount Hermon and Salecah and all Bashan, as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maacathites, and half of Gilead, as far as the border of Sihon king of Heshbon. 6Moses the servant of the LORD and the sons of Israel defeated them; and Moses the servant of the LORD gave it to the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh as a possession.

Joshua 12:1 “Arnon” This means “rushing stream” (BDB 75). It runs into the Dead Sea, approximately in the middle. It was the border between Moab and the Amorites and later the southern boundary of Reuben (cf. Deuteronomy 3:12).

“Arabah” See note at Joshua 11:2.

Joshua 12:2

NASB“which is on the edge of the valley of the Arnon, both the middle of the valley and half of Gilead” NKJV“and ruled half of Gilead, from Aroer, which is on the bank of the river Arnon, from the middle of that river” NRSV“which is on the edge of the Wadi Arnon, and from the middle of the valley as far as the river Jabbok, the boundary of the Ammonites, that is, half of Gilead” TEV“His kingdom included half of Gilead: from Aroer (on the edge of the Arnon valley) and from the city in the middle of the valley” NJB“ruled from Aroer which is on the edge of the Arnon valley, including the bottom of the valley, half Gilead”

The Hebrew text is uncertain at this point (i.e., Joshua 12:2-3, cf. Jewish Study Bible, p. 485).

“the brook Jabbok” This trans-Jordan river flows into the Jordan, just north of the city of Adam. It was the site of Jacob's encounter with the angel (cf. Genesis 32:22). It was the boundary between the allotments of Manasseh and Gad (cf. Deuteronomy 3:12, Deuteronomy 3:16).

Joshua 12:3 “Pisgah” This mountain (BDB 820) is in the trans-Jordan area east of the mouth of the Jordan. It is also known as “Nebo” (BDB 612 I). They might be two peaks close together, or Pisgah may refer to the entire mountain range and Nebo the highest peak. This is the mountain where Moses was allowed to see the Promised Land. He is buried somewhere on its heights (cf. Deuteronomy 34:0).

Joshua 12:4 “Rephaim” The Septuagint identifies them as “giants.” See note at Joshua 11:21.

“Ashtaroth” This was a city named after the female fertility goddess of Canaan, worshiped in a wooden symbol of the tree of life (carved stake or live tree). See note at Joshua 9:10.

Joshua 12:6 The three Israeli tribes that settled on the eastern side of the Jordan were Reuben, Gad, and half-tribe of Manasseh.

Verses 7-24

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 12:7-24 7Now these are the kings of the land whom Joshua and the sons of Israel defeated beyond the Jordan toward the west, from Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon even as far as Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir; and Joshua gave it to the tribes of Israel as a possession according to their divisions, 8in the hill country, in the lowland, in the Arabah, on the slopes, and in the wilderness, and in the Negev; the Hittite, the Amorite and the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite: 9the king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one; 10the king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one; 11the king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one; 12the king of Eglon, one; the king of Gezer, one; 13the king of Debir, one; the king of Geder, one; 14the king of Hormah, one; the king of Arad, one; 15the king of Libnah, one; the king of Adullam, one; 16the king of Makkedah, one; the king of Bethel, one; 17the king of Tappuah, one; the king of Hepher, one; 18the king of Aphek, one; the king of Lasharon, one; 19the king of Madon, one; the king of Hazor, one; 20the king of Shimron-meron, one; the king of Achshaph, one; 21the king of Taanach, one; the king of Megiddo, one; 22the king of Kedesh, one; the king of Jokneam in Carmel, one; 23the king of Dor in the heights of Dor, one; the king of Goiim in Gilgal, one; 24the king of Tirzah, one: in all, thirty-one kings.

Joshua 12:7-24 This is a repetitive summary of Joshua's conquest recorded earlier.

Joshua 12:7 “Baal-gad” See note at Joshua 13:5.

Joshua 12:8 “the slopes” This term (BDB 78) is used of a different area in Joshua 10:40.

12:10-33 “the king of” The Canaanites had a city-state, as did the Philistines and the Greek peoples.

Joshua 12:23

NASB, JPSOA“the king of Goiim in Gilgal” NKJV“the king of the people of Gilgal” NRSV“the king of Goiim in Galilee” TEV“Goiim (in Galilee)” NJB“the king of the nations in Galilee”

The Septuagint has “in Galilee.” The MT has “the king of the nations in Gilgal” or “the foreign king at Gilgal,” which does not make sense.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Joshua 12". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/joshua-12.html. 2021.
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